hile the 2018 Winter Fancy Food Show presented a feast of trends from nutritious
and protein-packed to indulgent, the unifying theme was “feel good,” as the industry
embraces a sense of health and well-being around the foods
and beverages it produces, consumes, markets and sells.
“It’s one of the special things about the specialty food
industry, with its passionate and committed producers
and buyers,” said Denise Purcell, trends expert and head
of content for Specialty Food Magazine. “It’s about more
than selling a product. It’s a lifestyle of eating for enjoy-
ment and health.”
Owned and produced by the New York City-based not-
for-profit Specialty Food Association, the 2018 Winter
Fancy Food Show welcomed 1,400 exhibitors and more
than 25,000 attendees—including representatives from
Kroger, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s—to San Francisco’s
Moscone Center Jan. 21-23.
“Food is now the carrier of much, much more,” said
former Whole Foods Market co-CEO Walter Robb in his
keynote of the 2018 Specialty Food Association Leader-
ship Awards, honoring food industry entrepreneurs for
business leadership, citizenship and vision. At the event,
held during the opening day of the show, Robb added that
today’s suppliers increasingly have “a sense of mission
and purpose to their products.”
That mission might be building financial security through
job creation for women in Morocco, such as Casablanca
Market, or tackling world hunger by farming edible bugs, in
the case of Leadership Award winner Mohammed Ashour
of Aspire Food Group. But for most at this year’s show,
including R&D Chef Clayton Burrows of Blount Fine Foods,
the mission is to create foods that are “healthy for the soul.”
“The Fancy Food Show used to be chocolate, cheese and
sauce, and now it’s a blending of the two markets: indulgence and health,” said Purcell. All the top trends at the
show had a better-for-you bent, featuring products such
as 100% grass-fed beef jerky, gluten-free ancient grains,
no-sugar-added vegetable drinks and plant-based milks.
Even traditionally indulgent foods such as chocolate were
featured with beneficial ingredients, from anti-inflamma-tory turmeric to protein-rich algae.
Offering a trifecta of high protein, portable convenience
and better-for-you snacking, specialty jerky is no joke.
From grass-fed to hand-marinated and paleo-approved,
the high-quality jerky sampled at this year’s show estab-
lished the category’s status as a healthful snack option.
“It’s a revamped category that is just taking off,” said
Joe Stemmer, national field marketing manager for the
San Bernardino, Calif.-based Country Archer Jerky Co.
“It’s one of the fastest-growing categories, and we offer
the No. 1 selling natural jerky brand.”
Country Archer Jerky is MSG-, hormone-, nitrate- and
gluten-free, and made in small batches using 100% grass-
fed beef. The 3-ounce bag of Country Archer Mango
Habanero Beef Jerky contains 30 grams of protein.
Krave Jerky, a Sonoma, Calif.-based purveyor of mini-
mally processed meat and poultry snacks, calls the revolu-
tion in the natural jerky category “a protein renaissance.”
Field Trip of Brooklyn, N.Y., featured its grass-fed,
crate-free Beef, Turkey and Pork Jerky, as well as its
new better-for-you Crispy Cuts Pork Rinds.
Ancient Grain Revival
Ancient grains offer more nutritional bang for the
buck. Some are gluten-free, including quinoa, sorghum and chia seeds. Other ancient grains such as
freekah and farro are whole-grain types of wheat, and
while they’re not gluten-free, they are rich in fiber and
protein. The appeal of added nutrients and protein is
driving the inclusion of ancient grains in everything
from breakfast bowls to savory side dishes and even
Specialty & Gourmet
Foods With Benefits
The Winter Fancy Food Show featured a flavorful balance of
nutrition and indulgence that’s on-trend and ready for takeoff.
By Jennifer Strailey
Total sales of specialty
food in the U.S., up
15% since 2014.
Source: Specialty Food
The 2018 Winter
Fancy Food Show
saw more than